Much happens on a movie set, and being around the hustle and bustle can be somewhat intimidating for young actors. However, three kids from Cleveland have taken it all in stride since they began working as child actors.
The three siblings, 14-year-old Manon, 11-year-old Cooper and 9-year-old Holland Guy, each have a variety of acting credits on their resumes — from small, independent short films to feature-length films for major TV networks.
It all started when Manon was watching an episode of “Lizzie McGuire,” a Disney TV show that ran from 2001 to 2004, a few years ago. She thought the actors looked like they were having fun, and she later approached her parents saying she wanted to be an actress too.
“At first, everybody was like, ‘How do you do that in Cleveland?’ There was no acting here,” Manon said.
She began doing research and found out that a lot of films and TV shows do their casting in the Atlanta area. She asked her parents if she could go to some auditions, and they granted permission.
Parents Shane and Amanda Guy began to drive her to Atlanta to try out for roles. Around that time, she began acting with a children’s community theater group in Cleveland before landing her first short film role. Manon’s excitement for acting was contagious, and Cooper and Holland began trying out for roles as well.
“At first I thought is was just a phase,” said Amanda, their mother. “The truth is that it’s been really fun. They’ve had a lot of experiences they’ll really remember.”
The siblings are all home-schooled and stay busy with acting and other activities. In the midst of balancing school with acting work and things like dance classes, the three have all found success in individual roles. Manon recently won the award for “Best Child Actress” for her role in a short film called “Just Grate” made for the 48 Hour Film Race in Nashville, a filmmaking competition that requires making a film from start to finish in just 48 hours. Cooper recently attended the premiere of a short film directed by Ben Watts called “Blood Of Man” in which he had a lead role and acted in a recently wrapped movie made for the Lifetime channel called “Changing Seasons” which has yet to be added to the channel’s schedule.
Shane, the kids’ father, works at Pilgrim’s Pride in Chattanooga, and Amanda runs her own photography business. While Shane cannot travel as much, Amanda is able to travel with the children to wherever they are working, taking her own work with her.
Home-schooling has made traveling to act easier for the kids, and the typical day on set, by law, includes breaks for schoolwork taught by parents, or an on-set teacher for the cast.
By and large, the children have had to get used to a new set of experiences while acting, but all said they have had fun most of the time. Manon said a positive experience she had to get used to was being the “talent” on set. She remembers one time when it started pouring down rain while filming, and a crew member quickly sheltered her with an umbrella to preserve her look for the film. She said it surprised her to be treated like a “star.”
Amanda said she is proud that her children do not act as if they are entitled to the type of special attention some actors and actresses demand from their film crews. She added that the three also participated as extras in “The Three Stooges” feature film this year, and saw that not all people in movies get treated like movie stars.
While the three have acted in separate films, they have had the opportunity to work together on a couple occasions. All three acted in “Just Grate,” and they recently finished working on short films directed by Leslie Lugosi that will be pieced together to make a feature-length film called “Con+inuum.”
Manon and Holland played a pair of sisters in “Time,” one of the short films that is set to be part of “Con+inuum.” Cooper is set to act in a different short film in the series soon. Holland said she loved getting to act with her sister, and Manon agreed.
“You’re normally supposed to have to create that sibling bond with someone you just met,” Manon said. “We didn’t have to create that.”
At the end of the day, the children have interests like most their age. Manon loves reading. Cooper enjoys playing paintball and being outside with friends. Holland’s favorite pastimes include gymnastics and painting.
All three of the siblings said they love acting and, for right now, want to pursue acting as their lifelong careers. Manon said she loves the entertainment industry and would like to write or produce for TV or film if she does not find on-camera success.
“I can definitely see myself doing something in this business — even if acting doesn’t work out,” Manon said.
Either way, the siblings all agreed they have all had experiences they will remember for the rest of their lives.